CARIFESTA IV, 1981: Barbados’ Silent and Forgotten Cultural Legacy
Historical Background to CARIFESTA 1981
in Guyana as the brainchild of itslate leader, Forbes Burnham.The idea was to create a roving arts festival that would bring together
Caribbean artists and cultural practitioners to share and exchange in their artistic experiences andexpressions while at the same time promoting Caribbean unity. Though these lofty ideals remain intact,the Festival never quite lived up to its expectations primarily due to poor planning, lack of funding andpolitical will. Nonetheless, in spite of its challenges, there is a body of regional artists and culturalactivists who struggle to keep the ideal alive. Of all the events to date, 1981 remains etched in thememories of Barbadians as a large nationally hosted event that was both a failure and a success,depending on whose point of view.
Let’s imagine Barbados in the year 1981. A mere 15 years of Independence from colonial rule, still
grappling with the exercise of nation-building and the pressures of socio-economic and culturaldevelopment. For all intents and purposes, as we look back, the nation was immature in many regards:poor management skills, limited infrastructure, weak platform for cultural and artistic expression and wecan go on listing all the weaknesses associated with these former colonies in the 1970s and early 1980s.However, following in the footsteps of our bigger neighbors, Guyana in 1972, Jamaica in 1976 and Cuba1979, Barbados embarked on the ambitious project of hosting the fourth CARIFESTA from July 19
, 1981.Table 1